By: Amanda Rumore
Congratulations, you’re expecting again! You’re thrilled and your emotions are running rampant. You’re bursting with excitement, happiness….and apprehension. Your little one, now the soon-to-be big brother (or sister,) is the apple of your eye, the center of your universe. How will they handle the new addition?
Many families face this very dilemma. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, almost 80 percent of children grow up with at least one sibling. How your child learns to get along with a brother or sister will set the pattern for how they’ll get along with others.
TIPS FOR BEFORE BABIES ARRIVAL
The Big Announcement
Keep it simple. For a toddler, sharing too early may be confusing since they have no sense of time passing. If possible, reference the new baby’s arrival with a holiday or season. Then, let your child’s questions be your guide. If your little one asks for details, remember that you don’t have to explain everything.
A Family Affair
Depending on their age, include baby #1 in the preparation. Take your child to prenatal checkups to hear baby’s heartbeat and watch the ultrasound. When the baby kicks, let him/her touch your belly and talk to the baby. If possible, let your preschooler pick out one or two items that you purchase — a stuffed animal or pajamas. Take a trip to the library and pick out some books that will gently explain what’s going on. Some hospitals even have classes for expectant siblings, so they can learn in a group setting.
The Big Day
As the due date approaches, talk to your child about what will happen when you have to go to the hospital. Make it special, such as “Grandma is coming over for a sleepover and to bake your favorite cookies.” In the days before giving birth, try to keep a regular routine. You want life to be as normal as possible for your toddler. When new baby arrives, let the older sibling be the first to meet the baby. A private setting is ideal so your child can react naturally.
TIPS FOR AFTER BABIES ARRIVAL
A Group Effort
Continue to allow the older child to help and participate as much as possible. This encourages them and allows them to feel like a “big boy or girl” and a contributing part of the family.
It’s common for the older sibling to feel jealous and confused as they now must share your attention. Try to spend individual time with your oldest. A common trend is Daddy /Daughter and Mommy/Son dates. Whether you have a son or daughter, “dates” can start in toddler years and can be a special time when they have all of mommy or daddy’s attention. Most new parents are short on time so try simple things like a bike ride or a trip to the local ice cream parlor. Also remember that a new baby needs more time with mom, so dad might be the “favorite” parent to the older sibling for this transitional period.
Two’s a Crowd
When both kids are crying or need attention, and it’s not an emergency situation, tend to the eldest first as they will remember. Also keep in mind that practice makes perfect; just by doing it daily, you’ll learn the best way to thrive as a family of four.
Amanda Rumore is a freelance writer and founder of Valley Gal, Inc. (www.valleygalinc.com). Originally from Chicago, she has worked throughout the US in marketing and public relations and now resides in North Phoenix with her husband, where they are currently expecting their first child. Amanda loves her two Boston Terriers, enjoying the outdoors and spending time with family and friends.
*Article photos courtesy of Keri Meyers Photography